I heard another of those patronizing ONDCP (The Office of National Drug Control Policy) ads on the radio this morning. The ads are nothing but propaganda. The government has been given its marching orders by politicians that think they know how to live your life better than you do. Now they have extended their fight into your home. Not only do they want to make sure your kids know that “drugs are bad, m`kay” (think of South Park’s Mr. Mackey here) but they want you to tell your kids that. Whether or not you have personally tried drugs is going to have a big impact on whether or not you have this little government sponsored talk with your kid. If you haven’t even tried drugs you are much more likely to have “the Talk” because you have probably already signed on with the “drug are bad, m`kay” crowd. For those of you that have tried drugs and it didn’t trash your life, the ONDCP has ads for you too that will tell you that even though you survived a brief encounter with the “evil world of drug use” and lived to tell the tale that drugs are still bad and that you REALLY need to have that talk with your kid. The talk they want you to have with your kid is not one that includes how to be responsible citizens and limit the drugs you take or how to be safe and use the proper paraphernalia or even how to identify drugs that could kill them because they are impure. No, the talk the government wants you to have with your child is to tell them that the government knows what is best for them and that they should only do what the government wants them to. Oh, and if they could rat out any of their friends that are “evil drug users” that would be great, yeah (Way to go Lumberg!). To tell you the truth, I want you to have “the Talk” with your kids too. Except my version would include you introducing your kid to your dealer and showing him what really good stuff looks like. Hell, light up a bowl with the ankle biter and for once relax and enjoy the kid you are trying so damn hard to raise right in this world. A world where you and your wife have to work full time jobs to pay for all of the taxes that help fund the moral crusaders at the ONDCP. No, drugs aren’t for everyone. I know that as an addictive personality I need to stay away from drugs, but I was able to make that choice for myself, and I needed more information than “drugs are bad, m`kay”. There is still a huge black market out there in the US that is preying on our youth everyday because all the information our kids are getting is “drugs are bad, m`kay”. If we want our kids to grow up to be productive citizens in this country, I think the adults need to do a bit of growing up themselves first and take this issue seriously enough to stop saying “drugs are bad, m`kay” and give the children of this nation the information they need to protect themselves from the “evil world of drug use.”
There are two items I think the horse welfare advocacy groups need to consider. The first item is the need for self-regulation of horse rescues. It is a wonderful thing that there are people in this world that understand that horses depend on humans for humane treatment. Unfortunately, good intentions with poor execution can land horses in conditions as bad and in some extreme cases, worse conditions than they would have faced had nothing been done. Just because someone has owned a horse before, or even several horses before, does not mean that that person can care for a dozen or several dozen horses at once. In the best interests of the horses and the good name of horse rescues that are doing things right, there are some rescues that need to be shut down. Who else understands the difficulty of running a horse rescue than other horse rescues? Additionally, horse rescues that are doing things right do not need the added burden of dealing with the bad publicity that is generated by inhumane horse rescues. It is in their best interests to be self-regulating and prevent the operation of inhumane rescues. This can be accomplished through a voluntary certification program that would provide operational audits and in some cases guidance towards substantial compliance. The public interest would be better served because they could easily identify humane rescues through the display of their voluntary certification. The certification group could also provide outreach to trouble groups and help them achieve certification or if necessary as identified through careful investigation help local authorities bring animal cruelty charges against inhumane rescues. Self-regulation of rescues now could help the horse rescue community avoid draconian measures that could result from legislative action in response to a severe neglect case.
The second action that would benefit horse welfare would be another voluntary program that breeders would be encouraged to participate in. The certification would require that the breeder institute a number of administrative controls. The first would be to clearly identify horses in their inventory that are their breeding stock. Any other horse kept or sold by the breeder would not be allowed into a breeding program. The males would be gelded and females would be sold with contracts specifying that the mare is not to be bred. The contract would reserve the right of the breeder of ownership of any offspring of the mare and that any unauthorized offspring will be destroyed after being weaned from the mare. Breeding controls of this nature would reduce the number of ‘excess’ horses in the country which would increase the value of horses at the margin and increase costs to the slaughterhouses. If costs are driven high enough overseas markets would be forced to look to local markets or abandon the practice altogether. Wouldn’t that be nice?
There are some people who will tell you that the founding fathers only meant the right to keep and bear arms to apply to an organized militia unit. Then they will tell you that the militia in its modern form is the Reserves or National Guard. That might even make sense. Now ask yourself, when was the last time you saw a portrait of George Washington, John Hancock, or Thomas Jefferson in the red coat of the British Army? Think real hard. The answer is: NEVER! None of our founding fathers were in any part of the British Military. George Washington was a farmer and an architect. John Hancock was a merchant and one of America’s founding fathers of rum running. Thomas Jefferson was a tobacco farmer. When Americans rose up and formed militias to overthrow the British rule of the American colonies they were the farthest thing from being part of a military force organized by the government. Now ask yourself, what had the founding fathers had to do to be able to write the Constitution or the Bill of Rights? That’s right, they had to take up arms (that’s military weaponry for all of you people from the Ivy League) and overthrow the government they had been under for over a century. Now do you think they meant that the right to keep and bear arms in order to maintain an organized militia meant the National Guard or the Reserves? I should hope not because the founding fathers themselves wrote long and hard about the need to keep arms (yes, still military weapons) in the hands of the people (please read: average citizens).
Here is a question I think most horse advocates don’t like to answer: Why not eat horses? I work at a horse rescue and have heard a lot of arguments against horses being slaughtered for human consumption. Some of the arguments are the same as why we don’t eat dog in this country, because they are our pets. There are also arguments because the way horses are killed for human consumption is inhuman or just disgusting to anyone that loves these beautiful creatures. The other side of the argument could be that we eat cows in this country and if we are so concerned about animal rights why aren’t we listening to the Indians who worship cows and not eat them. What about the people in Korea and China that raise dogs for food? Why don’t you see American dog shelters killing dogs to be exported to Asia as food? I would like to address all of those arguments. The reason why people eat horses is because their culture accepts it. Why do we eat cattle with no issues, because our culture accepts it. The argument that Indians worship cattle, so we shouldn’t eat them is not equivalent because we don’t wait for Indians to raise cattle and treat them like pets until they have no use for them and then buy those cattle for meat. We raise our own herds for our own consumption. Why don’t animal shelters in America kill dogs for human consumption in Asia, because dogs are small and it would not be economic to do so. So why do we allow horses to be bred in America for use as companion animals and pets and then when some of these animals lose their usefulness they are sold at auction and purchased for slaughter and consumption in oversees markets? Why, because they are large animals with a significant amount of meat that has an economic market price. That’s it, there is your answer. The market is allowed to function regardless of moral objections by individuals in the horse community. I understand that placing a restriction on the market through the use of the government goes against the core of my beliefs that restricting government is the best thing for a free society. That said, I would argue that horses in this country are not bred for food and that raising them as companion animals constitutes a contract between the people in this countries equine community and the horses raised here, that are expected to work with humans and humans are expected to treat them humanely. If other countries want to eat horses, they need to breed them for their own food. The horses in this country should be protected from inhuman treatment because the citizens of the US that are part of the equine community have a commitment to the horses they breed as companion animals.
For a long time I have attributed many different motivations to our government and the people who affect its policies. I have called them self-interested, moral busybodies, money-grubbers, and just plain ignorant. Recently I have read and seen some things that have changed this perception of government. Ask yourself something, how does government have control over someone? The answer is, when that person has violated a law and become a criminal. Now, all of the laws that I had previously attributed innocent motivations to look different to me. They are not that innocent. The people who write laws understand all too well what it takes to give government power over its people. It has to make them into criminals. These people have to find ways to make their fellow citizens into criminals and still assign seemingly innocent reasons to them so it will be palatable to those very citizens. We need to open our eyes to this and stop allowing ourselves to be fooled into thinking that these people are innocently expanding the reach of government or that they are naive to implications of their laws. Look at every law that is passed through the filter that asks, ‘who will this make into a criminal?’ That should change how you look at our ever expanding government.